Last fall, I had the pleasure of attending a talk by Sean Wheeler, teacher and instructional technologist. This wasn't the first time I heard him speak, and each time I do, I always feel both inspired and agitated. Inspired, obviously, because Sean makes me want to be a better teacher. And agitated because everything Sean says makes sense and...why aren't we transforming education RIGHT NOW?
This particular day, as he often does, Sean was discussing the disconnect between what happens in the "real" world and what happens in education--particularly in our school buildings. He pointed out, very accurately, that at anytime and at anyplace, when we need information, we immediately have access to it via our mobile devices, laptops, and tablets. We can pull up a map of Tibet, a video explaining the Pythagorean theorem, a Wikipedia article about the Underground Railroad...all in seconds.
And yet, in the one place where knowledge, information, and the acquisition of it on a daily (and hourly) basis is not only necessary but naturally expected, guess what we do?
We take away the search bars.
It's true. Student mobile devices are prohibited in school. Filtering software prevents access to websites. Limited and/or outdated technology in our schools means teachers have to resort to boring and rote worksheets.
What's wrong with this picture?
So, we adopt the Common Core because we want students to experience more rigor in their learning. And we implement the Next Generation Assessments (which are technology-task heavy, by the way) to prove students are both college and career ready.
How can we fix this? How can we return the search bar? We can't overturn district policy on student mobile devices (yet). We can't single-handedly deactivate firewalls (yet). We can't provide the latest device to every one of our students (yet). It takes time...but we'll get there.
How do I know this? Because I see it everyday. Teachers have always been creative problem-solvers. We've always invented ways to provide when the district or the budget can't. Whether it's a one iPad classroom or a classroom with three desktop computers from ten years ago, we've been able to create engaging lessons that encourage and produce critical thinking and creativity.
And even better, I've seen students who (to use a cliche) think outside of the box--who transcend our expectations with their ingenuity and imagination. We can learn from them, too (but that's another post for another day.)
This is what I tell teachers who bemoan what we don't have. (There are those teachers, too.) It CAN be done, and we just have to be creative about it.
The quotation that' the title of this post is from Sean Wheeler, too, and when I first heard it, I inwardly slumped. Because when you think about it, it's depressing. If the future already happened, how can we hope to catch up? We don't have search bars!
Sometimes, though, it's not about the technology. Sure, it's nice to have--and it's necessary to have in this day and age. But most of the time, it's about the teaching.
So, keep reading great books, and keep following great minds, check out those Pinterest boards curated by great teachers, and ask for help from your PLC. We're all in this together.
And I have faith in us.
Digital Learning Coach in Cleveland, Ohio, sharing innovative technology ideas.